We make our way slowly through the village looking for a camp to pitch up our tent and we open up a can of beer to celebrate our arrival and we notice our favourite food stall, Ostrich Burgers, just a simple name lit up in neon lights and we both look over at it and I say “I know what I’m having later”.
We look around at the camp sites and everyone is full so we ask a young man in a yellow shirt and ask him if there’s any spaces anywhere and he points us towards the pink camp so we make our way over a what can only be described as a mini Everest that even seasoned mountain climber would struggle with so when you see men with long hair and heavy metal shirts make their way of the rocky hill while carrying tents and crates of beer it can be an experience to witness it unfold.
We try find a spot within the camp and I take a look around and I realise it’s the same camp we were in last year.
We pick a place to put up the tent as the site around us starts to fill up, a lady in a green vest yells at any campers trying to pitch a tent within the middle of the site, she tells them it needs to be clear for any possible emergency.
We get the tent up, lay down are sleeping bags and we take a look around the site, it’s filling up nicely, all colours of tiny little dome homes for three days, flags with band names on, jolly rogers and football teams, the smell of barbaque and burning burgers fills the air and heavy rock and roll that is providing the soundtrack for the weekend. “Fuck it” says Sam “lets open up a beer, walk to the village, grab some food and head to the arena” so we take a slow walk and make our way over mini Everest and into the village and slowly look around for a place to eat as we slowly drink our booze.
We look around the crowed village for a place to eat and I turn to Sam “Mate we’ll have to pick up another crate tomorrow, might be a little pricy but lets make the most of it”
“Yeah alright, lets go for cider, the weather looking good so lets get something fizzy”
“Any things better than lager” I say.
We spot a hot dog stall and we walk towards it and both get a jumbo dog with cheese sauce, i’m not much of a fan of the sauce and with a growing beard and no tissues to wipe with this is going to be tricky. The sauce covers my beard like a paint brush being dipped into yellow paint, this is not going to go well, in the weather we are having now a full cheese beard will turn a well fed dog away.
I manage to find some napkins sitting on a random table and I wipe my mouth, take a swig of beer and we make our way towards the arena and we both hope that the weather really does stay like this and not turn into the wash out for the third year in a row.
Walking towards the entrance to the arena a mass of people surround us, much larger and much louder than the year before and the dust of the road is blowing into every ones faces which is something far newer than last year, the only that the wind was blowing last year was rain.
So we stand in line and looking at large signs saying “YOU WILL BE SEARCHED, PEOPLE WITH BAGS TO THE RIGHT” so we slowly move forward. People all around us chatter and talk about the bands they want to see and some of them continue to put sun cream on with the hope that it won’t be washed off by 6’oclock.
We make it to the front and everyone is shouted at by a bald man in a black coat (the guy must be melting right now) “SHOW US YOUR WRISTBANDS” he says as he waves everyone through and me and Sam hold our arms in the air as we walk by him and he never even takes a look at us. And now the search begins, a small man who’s even smaller than I am starts to pat me down and he reassures me that he will not and he promises he will not slip me the finger. He finishes the pat down and lets me through and we can the sound of Motionless in White playing on the main stage as walk through the crowd to find the dog bar and that same feeling that I got last year when I made it to the arena and when I walked into the village, i’m finally back where I belong.
We spend the next five hours walking around the arena drinking beer and getting closer and closer to the front of the main stage and then Prophets In Rage hits the stage and we hold our fists into the air and Sam leans over to me and says “I’m watching Tom Morello on stage”.
The crowd is going mental and the band are smashing it up and near to the end of the set they even do a cover of Jump by House Of Pain which is a odd song to here at a rock and roll festival but right now I don’t think anybody gives a shit everyone is just jumping up and down.
They close the set with the popular Rage song Killing in the Name and the crowd of drunken Rage fans lose their shit and jump and mosh pit all around us, it’s the perfect ending to a perfect set and they leave the stage and I think to myself they have only been together for a year, not a lot of super groups usually pull of a show like that, what ever happened to that Mick Jagger protect?
We grab ourselves a beer and make our way close to the stage ready for System “what’s that smell” says Sam
“I don’t know mate, I’ve been smelling it all day, it might be the new drainage system, don’t worry about it Sam wise we’ll be smelling like this come Monday morning anyway”.
The crowd has pilled up nicely and everyone is ready for System to hit the stage, you can feel the tension and the excitement in the air, everyone is bracing themselves and so am I.
They walk on to the stage and the crowd goes wild, they start off slow and the tension builds and a small serge moves forward and back and me and Sam know what’s about to happen and then they kick into the first song a large mosh pit forms around me and Sam and we caught in the middle, I cant even recognise the song that’s playing because the awesome chaos that’s happening around me. Sam has disappeared from sight all I can hear along with the loud music is a loud screeching noise moving around me saying “Ste! Ste!”. Then Sam appeared in front of me ready to drag us out of there but a large man three times the size of him pushes him of the way and on to the floor and the same man picks him back up as I manage to get to him and we manage to pull ourselves our there. But everything around us is mayhem, the crowd is moving back and forward, mosh pits keep forming around us and me and Sam are jumping up and down and neither of us can still name the songs that a playing.
Half way through the set I notice that Serj is struggling to sing and he’s passed off the main vocals to Daron but with the excitement going on I don’t think anybody really gives a shit.
They finish the set with Sugar and the leave the stage with no encore but I don’t think anybody has really notice, everyone is exhausted and ready to make their way back to their camps and carry on drinking.
We make our way to the village after taking the long walk back and this time for the first time we are dry.
“Food time mate” I say to Sam and walk towards to the famous Ostrich Burgers stall, the neon lights are the only thing that are standing out to me. I get myself a meal, burger and chips and it costs me £10 which at any other time would be a live robbery but I don’t care right now after that gig I need to refuel and get some energy back before I make it back to the camp, I’ve got a mountain to make it over after all.
I wolf down my burger and continue walking towards are camp, people rush by us looking for more booze and a tent to party in.
We barely make it over the mountain as we make it back to out camp, half way over our legs could have gave way and it’s only the first day.
Standing outside the tent drinking a beer outside the tent I look around at the camp and I listen to music being played around the camp, I even hear a tent near to us playing Barbie Girl.
The first day is done, we’ve made it through System, the weather has been better it than it has been the previous two years and the food is as good as it ever has been. The only downside to this year is and I noticed it on the walk back from the arena and now in the camp nobody has shouted Alan or Steve or Dan or Hodor or Backscratcher yet but there is another two days to get out of the way yet and if we don’t hear it by Sunday I’m sure me and Sam can get the chant going.